PATIENCE, precision and perseverance.
Professional wild dog trappers have all three in spades, and need those qualities to outsmart the cunning canines, which roam the bush hunting for the thrill of the kill.
Grazier Michael Knuth, of Victoria Downs Station, enlisted the help of professional trappers in a bid to protect his cattle from the destructive pests.
Last year, 64 wild dogs were trapped and killed at the property, with the help of Charters Towers based Inland Trapping owner Tony Lasker.
Northern Trapping owner Jordy Oostrom, who helped to train Tony, makes a living trapping and humanely disposing of wild dogs, which he said were decimating both native wildlife and livestock across the state.
Jordy, originally from the Netherlands, has worked around the world and arrived in Australia a decade ago.
He started trapping dogs to help out mates and property owners around the Burdekin, and registered as a full-blown business, with all the insurances and licenses required about five years ago.
Demand for his services is ever increasing and he has bookings into next year.
Jordy and Tony are both passionate about their work, and stress the importance of the humane treatment of all animals.
Jordy likes helping people overcome their dog dilemmas, and conducts workshops to teach other landholders the tricks of his trade.
For Jordy, it’s been decades in the making.
He explains that he takes his indicator dog, a sprightly jack russell cross kelpie, around a property and she will mark her scent in areas where wild dogs have been.
As dogs tend to follow the same paths, from there he carefully assesses the landscape to determine where to best hide the trap.
It’s not a matter of just chucking it on the ground. The dogs are cunning and will avoid areas that have been obviously disturbed.
Jordy digs, sets and buries the trap, which is anchored on rods hammered deep into the ground, before placing a lure and dusting the area with leaves and twigs.
Then it’s a waiting game. Dogs go on the move at night and will generally rest up during the day.
Jordy explains all traps must be checked every 24 hours and trapped animals dealt with.
He tries to place traps in the shade, so if an animal is trapped for a couple of hours before he reaches it, it’s not in the blazing sun.
Last week at Victoria, two wild dogs were trapped in one night. The traps used are best practice, they are blunt and grab the dogs leg just above the paw. They don’t cut the animal, but merely hold them in place. A single shot to the skull quickly puts the animal to sleep.
One of Michael’s working dogs has previously trod in a trap. She waited patiently to be released and was back working that same afternoon, none the worse for the experience.
They are confident that the traps do not cause much damage to the dog, but are merely uncomfortable.
Jordy is quick to point out that these natural born killers are not dingoes, but are now a breed in their own right.
They can weigh anywhere between 20kg-40kg and bitches are now having litters of up to 10 pups annually.
Jordy ages the dogs by looking at their teeth, and said they are living to be older.
With their high fertility, a bitch could easily produce 100 pups in a lifetime.
Jordy conducts autopsies on the dogs, to determine their age, how many pups they are carrying or have given birth to, and importantly, what they have been feeding on.
The dogs at Victoria had feral pig in their guts, a better find that most. It’s not just livestock or feral pigs the dogs targeted. Jordy has found native wildlife, including koalas and platypus and even someone’s pet Dalmatian in the dogs guts.